Masaryk Student House

Denisovo nábřeží 1150/5 (Plzeň) Plzeň Východní Předměstí
Public transport: Anglické nábřeží
Hlavní nádraží
GPS: 49.744870N, 13.382488E

The second public building to be completed on the embankment of the regulated Radbuza River between Wilson Bridge (Wilsonův most) and the bridge U Jána in the late 1920s was the Masaryk Student House. The building, which abutted on the embankment frontage the main wing of the County Sickness Institution building (C1–1000), completed in 1927, was devised as an accommodation, dining and leisure centre for students of Pilsen secondary schools. The part of the complex intended for free-time activities – the courtyard wing of the building with a theatre and a nearby playing field, was never built, however. The five-storey building with a basement, commissioned by the student house association Spolek studentský dům, was erected in 1927–1929 by the Construction and Entrepreneurial Cooperative in Pilsen (Stavební a podnikatelské družstvo v Plzni) under the supervision of the builder Rudolf Pěchouček. As in the case of the adjacent insurance company headquarters, the 1925 plans for the building were drafted by the Pilsen architect Bohumil Chvojka.

As can be seen from the site plan, the architect designed Masaryk Student House and its unrealised courtyard theatre extension as a component of a new city block that would continue on the western end with a home for apprentices, while the street frontage in the direction of today’s Americká Avenue was to terminate in the building of the Summer Camp Puppet Theatre. The aforementioned playing grounds were to be established in the inner courtyard behind the apprentice house and the theatre, and the large building of the central municipal boiler house was to be situated behind the courtyard wing of the student house in the third angle of the triangular block. The whole block was to be bordered on one side by the embankment Denisovo nábřeží and on the other two by two unnamed streets, which, however, were never built.

Chvojka’s design of the two main facades of the implemented part of Masaryk Student House was linked to the morphology of the adjacent insurance company building. Despite its smaller size, monumental Classicist forms are evident in the student house also. The architect placed the main entrance on the central axis of the symmetrical street frontage and accentuated it with a tall portal with a balcony on the level of the entablature. He also slightly recessed the central bay of the facade above the portal and added a shallow balcony on the second floor. He divided the rest of the facade with shallow pilasters between the first and third floors and set large split windows with narrow sills in the intervening bays. Chvojka separated the uppermost floor from the others with a prominent string course joining onto that of the insurance company building. He reduced even more the ornamental elements of this facade, which has a combination of coloured renders and both natural and artificial stone, favouring Purist geometric relief elements. His design of the rear facade abandoned symmetrical composition, with the mass of the building in the northeastern corner receding several metres.

The three-section layout of the flat-roofed building corresponded to the purpose of Masaryk Student House – to provide accommodation and a refectory for students. The basement, therefore, contained alongside the machine room and cellars a large kitchen, a smaller one and a pantry, and the ground floor a small hall, dining room, kitchen and room, preparation area and toilets. The largest room on the first floor was the lecture hall in the street-side section, and a library and two rooms faced the courtyard. The second and third floors held the residential rooms with a common kitchen, washroom and WC. The loft space contained residential rooms and common amenities as well as a laundry room, drying room and mangle room, while in the rear section was an attic space and a photographic studio with a darkroom.

In May 1928, the foundation stone was ceremonially laid and the building was opened to students the following year. In 1938, the Pilsen builder Antonín Špalek drafted plans for conversion of the building into a medical facility. Construction alterations to the building were carried out in 1955 at the instigation of the Regional National Health Institute (OÚNZ) as the commissioning authority. Václav Dobrý, head of the technical department of OÚNZ, supervised the project. In 1971, the workers of Škoda Engineering Works in Pilsen mounted on the building a roughly six-metre high ornamental emblem in the form of the Czechoslovak national flag to commemorate the 50th anniversary of founding of the Czechoslovak Communist Party.

The former Masaryk Student House has been listed as a cultural monument since 1994 and at present constitutes part of the same medical facility as the adjacent former health insurance company building. Although it is still in sound condition, the facade is showing signs of ageing.




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